This article is about the U.S. state.
For other uses, see Virginia (disambiguation).
"The Old Dominion" redirects here.
For other uses, see Old Dominion.
|Before statehood||Colony of Virginia|
|Admitted to the Union||June 25, 1788 (10th)|
|Largest city||Virginia Beach|
|Governor||Ralph Northam (D)|
|Lieutenant Governor||Justin Fairfax (D)|
|Lower house||House of Delegates|
|Judiciary||Supreme Court of Virginia|
|U.S. House delegation||(list)|
|Total||42,774.2 sq mi (110,785.67 km)|
|Length||430 mi (690 km)|
|Width||200 mi (320 km)|
|Elevation||950 ft (290 m)|
|Highest elevation (Mount Rogers)||5,729 ft (1,746 m)|
|Lowest elevation (Atlantic Ocean)||0 ft (0 m)|
|Density||206.7/sq mi (79.8/km)|
|Median household income||$71,535|
|Time zone||UTC-05:00 (Eastern)|
|Summer (DST)||UTC-04:00 (EDT)|
|ISO 3166 code||US-VA|
|Latitude||36° 32′ N to 39° 28′ N|
|Longitude||75° 15′ W to 83° 41′ W|
|Virginia state symbols|
|Bird||Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)|
|Butterfly||Tiger swallowtail butterfly (Papilio glaucus)|
|Dog breed||American Foxhound (Canis lupus familiaris)|
|Fish||Brook trout, striped bass|
|Insect||Tiger swallowtail butterfly (Papilio glaucus)|
|Slogan||Virginia is for lovers|
|Tartan||Virginia Quadricentennial tartan|
|State route marker|
Virginia (/vərˈdʒɪniə/ (listen)), officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a state in the Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States between the Atlantic Coast and the Appalachian Mountains.
The Commonwealth's estimated population as of 2019 is over 8.54 million, with 36% of them living in the Baltimore–Washington metropolitan area.
Virginia's state nickname, the Old Dominion, is a reference to this status.
Slave labor and the land acquired from displaced Native American tribes each played a significant role in the colony's early politics and plantation economy.
In the American Civil War, Virginia's Secession Convention resolved to join the Confederacy while the First Wheeling Convention resolved to remain in the Union, leading to a split that created West Virginia.
Virginia's state legislature is the Virginia General Assembly, which was established in 1619 and is the oldest continuous law-making body in North America.
The state government is unique in how it treats cities and counties equally, manages local roads, and prohibits governors from serving consecutive terms.
Main article: Environment of Virginia
Virginia has a total area of 42,774.2 square miles (110,784.7 km), including 3,180.13 square miles (8,236.5 km) of water, making it the 35th-largest state by area.
Virginia is bordered by Maryland and Washington, D.C. to the north and east; by the Atlantic Ocean to the east; by North Carolina to the south; by Tennessee to the southwest; by Kentucky to the west; and by West Virginia to the north and west.
Virginia's boundary with Maryland and Washington, D.C. extends to the low-water mark of the south shore of the Potomac River.
Errors discovered in 1856 led Virginia to propose a new surveying commission in 1871, but in 1893 the U.S.
One result of this is the division of the city of Bristol between the two states.
Geology and terrain
It includes the Eastern Shore and major estuaries of Chesapeake Bay.
The Ridge and Valley region is west of the mountains and includes the Great Appalachian Valley.
35 million years ago, a bolide impacted what is now eastern Virginia.
Coal mining takes place in the three mountainous regions at 45 distinct coal beds near Mesozoic basins.
Main article: Climate of Virginia
Seasonal extremes vary from average lows of 25 °F (−4 °C) in January to average highs of 86 °F (30 °C) in July.
The Atlantic Ocean and Gulf Stream have a strong effect on eastern and southeastern coastal areas of the commonwealth, making the climate there warmer and more constant.
Most of Virginia's recorded extremes in temperature and precipitation have occurred in the Blue Ridge Mountains and areas west.
Virginia receives an average of 43.34 inches (110 cm) of precipitation annually, with the Shenandoah Valley being the state's driest region due to the mountains on either side.
Virginia has around 35–45 days with thunderstorms annually, and storms are common in the late afternoon and evenings between April and September.
These months are also the most common for tornadoes, 19 of which touched down in the state in 2019.
Hurricanes and tropical storms can occur from August to October, and though they typically impact coastal regions, the deadliest natural disaster in Virginia was Hurricane Camille, which killed over 150 people in 1969, mainly inland in Nelson County.
Between December and March, cold-air damming caused by the Appalachian Mountains can lead to significant snowfalls across the state, such as the January 2016 blizzard, which created the state's highest recorded snowfall of 36.6 inches (93 cm) near Bluemont.
Virginia only received 13.1 inches (33 cm) of snow during winter 2018–19, just above the state's average of 10 inches (25 cm).
Main article: Climate change in Virginia
Climate change in Virginia is leading to higher temperatures year-round as well as more heavy rain and flooding events.
Exposure of particulate matter in Virginia's air has decreased 49% from 13.5 micrograms per cubic meter in 2003 to 6.9 in 2019.
The closure and conversion of coal power plants in Virginia and the Ohio Valley region has reduced haze in the mountains, which peaked in 1998.
Virginia's 6 coal power plants must shut down by 2025, and current plans call for 30 percent of the state's electricity to be renewable by 2030 and for all of it to be carbon-free by 2050.
See also: List of endangered species in Virginia
In the western and mountainous parts of the commonwealth, oak and hickory are most common, while lower altitudes are more likely to have small but dense stands of moisture-loving hemlocks and mosses in abundance.
In the lowland tidewater and Piedmont, yellow pines tend to dominate, with bald cypress wetland forests in the Great Dismal and Nottoway swamps.
The largest areas of wilderness are along the Atlantic coast and in the western mountains, where the largest populations of trillium wildflowers in North America are found.
Rodents include groundhogs, weasels, nutria, beavers, both gray squirrels and fox squirrels, chipmunks, and Allegheny woodrats, while bats include brown bats and the Virginia big-eared bat, the state mammal.
Virginia's bird fauna consists of 422 counted species, of which 359 are regularly occurring, 41 are accidental (vagrant), 20 are hypothetical, and two are extinct; of the regularly occurring species, 214 have bred in Virginia, while the rest are winter residents or transients in Virginia.
There are no species of bird endemic to the state.
Peregrine falcons, whose numbers dramatically declined due to DDT pesticide poisoning in the middle of the 20th century, are the focus of conservation efforts in the state; as of 2017, Virginia had 31 breeding pairs of the bird, and a reintroduction program in Shenandoah National Park was underway.
Virginia has 226 species of freshwater fish, from 25 families; the state's diverse array of fish species is attributable to its varied and humid climate, physiography, river system interconnections, and lack of Pleistocene glaciers.
For example, the state is home to Eastern blacknose dace and sculpin (on the Appalachian Plateau); smallmouth bass and redhorse sucker (in the Ridge and Valley region); brook trout, rainbow trout, brown trout, and the Kanawha darter (in the Blue Ridge); stripeback darter and Roanoke Bass (in the Piedmont); and swampfish, bluespotted sunfish, and pirate perch (on the Coastal Plain).
Running brooks with rocky bottoms are often inhabited by plentiful amounts of crayfish.
Shenandoah was established in 1935 and encompasses the scenic Skyline Drive.
Almost forty percent (79,579 acres or 322.04 km) of the park's total 199,173 acres (806.02 km) area has been designated as wilderness under the National Wilderness Preservation System.
Virginia also has 38 Virginia state parks, 3 undeveloped parks, and 63 natural areas, totaling 127,000 acres (51,000 ha), of which approximately 70,000 acres (28,000 ha) are in state parks.
All are managed by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation except for Breaks Interstate Park.
which lies on the Virginia-Kentucky border and is one of only two inter-state parks in the United States.
The Chesapeake Bay is not a national park, but is protected by both state and federal legislation and the inter-state Chesapeake Bay Program, which conducts restoration on the bay and its watershed.
Main article: History of Virginia
Virginia celebrated its quadricentennial year in 2007, marking 400 years since the establishment of the Jamestown Colony.
The observances highlighted contributions from Native Americans, Africans, and Europeans, each of which had a significant part in shaping Virginia's history.
Warfare, including among these groups, has also had an important role.
Fictionalized stories about the early colony, in particular the story of Pocahontas and John Smith, first became popular in the period after the Revolutionary War, and together with other myths surrounding George Washington's childhood and plantation elite in the antebellum period became touchstones of Virginian and American culture and helped shape the state's historic politics and beliefs.
Main article: Colony of Virginia
The first people are estimated to have arrived in Virginia over 12,000 years ago.
By 5,000 years ago more permanent settlements emerged, and farming began by 900 AD.
After 1570, the Algonquians consolidated under Chief Powhatan in response to threats from these other groups on their trade network.
Powhatan controlled more than 30 smaller tribes and more than 150 settlements, who shared a common Virginia Algonquian language.
In 1607, the native Tidewater population was between 13,000 and 14,000.
In 1584, Raleigh sent an expedition to the Atlantic coast of North America.
The name "Virginia" may have been suggested then by Raleigh or Elizabeth, perhaps noting her status as the "Virgin Queen", and may also be related to a native phrase, "Wingandacoa", or name, "Wingina".
Initially the name applied to the entire coastal region from South Carolina to Maine, plus the island of Bermuda.
In 1619, colonists took greater control with an elected legislature, later called the House of Burgesses.
With the bankruptcy of the London Company in 1624, the settlement was taken into royal authority as an English crown colony.
Life in the colony was perilous, and many died during the Starving Time in 1609 and the Anglo-Powhatan Wars, including the Indian massacre of 1622, which fostered the colonists' negative view of all tribes.
By 1624, only 3,400 of the 6,000 early settlers had survived.
However, European demand for tobacco fueled the arrival of more settlers and servants.
African workers were first imported to Jamestown in 1619 initially under the rules of indentured servitude.
The shift to a system of African slavery in Virginia was propelled by the legal cases of John Punch, who was sentenced to lifetime slavery in 1640 for attempting to escape his servitude, and of John Casor, who was claimed by Anthony Johnson as his servant for life in 1655.
Slavery first appears in Virginia statutes in 1661 and 1662, when a law made it hereditary based on the mother's status.
Tensions and the geographic differences between the working and ruling classes led to Bacon's Rebellion in 1676, by which time current and former indentured servants made up as much as eighty percent of the population.
Rebels, largely from the colony's frontier, were also opposed to the conciliatory policy towards native tribes, and one result of the rebellion was the signing at Middle Plantation of the Treaty of 1677, which made the signatory tribes tributary states and was part of a pattern of appropriating tribal land by force and treaty.
After the House of Burgesses was dissolved by the royal governor in 1774, Virginia's revolutionary leaders continued to govern via the Virginia Conventions.
During the war, the capital was moved to Richmond at the urging of Governor Thomas Jefferson, who feared that Williamsburg's coastal location would make it vulnerable to British attack.
In 1781, the combined action of Continental and French land and naval forces trapped the British army on the Virginia Peninsula, where troops under George Washington and Comte de Rochambeau defeated British General Cornwallis in the Siege of Yorktown.
His surrender on October 19, 1781 led to peace negotiations in Paris and secured the independence of the colonies.
Virginians were instrumental in writing the United States Constitution.
Virginia ratified the Constitution on June 25, 1788.
Together with the Virginia dynasty of presidents, this gave the Commonwealth national importance.
Virginia is called the "Mother of States" because of its role in being carved into states such as Kentucky, which became the 15th state in 1792, and for the numbers of American pioneers born in Virginia.
Civil War and aftermath
Main article: Virginia in the American Civil War
In addition to agriculture, slave labor was increasingly used in mining, shipbuilding and other industries.
The execution of Gabriel Prosser in 1800, Nat Turner's slave rebellion in 1831 and John Brown's Raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859 marked the growing social discontent over slavery and its role in the plantation economy.
By 1860, almost half a million people, roughly 31 percent of the total population of Virginia, were enslaved.
This division contributed to the start of the American Civil War.
On April 24, Virginia joined the Confederate States of America, which chose Richmond as its capital.
Virginia was formally restored to the United States in 1870, due to the work of the Committee of Nine.
It passed segregationist Jim Crow laws and in 1902 rewrote the Constitution of Virginia to include a poll tax and other voter registration measures that effectively disenfranchised most African Americans and many poor European Americans.
Though their schools and public services were segregated and underfunded due to a lack of political representation, African Americans were able to unite in communities and take a greater role in Virginia society.
New economic forces also changed the Commonwealth.
Virginian James Albert Bonsack invented the tobacco cigarette rolling machine in 1880 leading to new industrial scale production centered around Richmond.
In 1886, railroad magnate Collis Potter Huntington founded Newport News Shipbuilding, which was responsible for building six World War I-era dreadnoughts, seven battleships, and 25 destroyers for the U.S.
Navy from 1907 to 1923.
In 1926, Dr. W.A.R.
Goodwin, rector of Williamsburg's Bruton Parish Church, began restoration of colonial-era buildings in the historic district with financial backing of John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Though their project, like others in the state, had to contend with the Great Depression and World War II, work continued as Colonial Williamsburg became a major tourist attraction.
Protests started by Barbara Rose Johns in 1951 in Farmville against segregated schools led to the lawsuit Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County.
But, in 1958, under the policy of "massive resistance" led by the influential segregationist Senator Harry F. Byrd and his Byrd Organization, the Commonwealth prohibited desegregated local schools from receiving state funding.
The civil rights movement gained many participants in the 1960s.
In 1989, Douglas Wilder became the first African American elected as governor in the United States.
The Cold War led to the expansion of national defense government programs housed in offices in Northern Virginia near Washington, D.C., and correlative population growth.
Also among the federal developments was the Pentagon, built during World War II as the headquarters for the Department of Defense.
It was one of the targets of the September 11 attacks; 189 people died at the site when a jet passenger plane was flown into the building.
Racial injustice and the presence of Confederate monuments in Virginia have also led to large demonstrations, including in August 2017, when a white supremacist drove his car into protesters, killing one, and in June 2020, when protests that were part of the larger Black Lives Matter movement brought about the removal of statues on Monument Avenue in Richmond and elsewhere.
Cities and towns
This general method of treating cities and counties on par with each other is unique to Virginia; only three other independent cities exist elsewhere in the United States, each in a different state.
In addition to independent cities, there are also incorporated towns which operate under their own governments, but are part of a county.
Finally there are hundreds of unincorporated communities within the counties.
Virginia does not have any further political subdivisions, such as villages or townships.
Fairfax County has a major urban business and shopping center in Tysons Corner, Virginia's largest office market.
Neighboring Prince William County is Virginia's second most populous county, with a population exceeding 450,000, and is home to Marine Corps Base Quantico, the FBI Academy and Manassas National Battlefield Park.
Arlington County, the smallest self-governing county in the United States by land area, is an urban community organized as a county.
Richmond is the capital of Virginia, and its metropolitan area has a population over 1.2 million.
Main article: Demographics of Virginia
This includes an increase of 534,495 people into the Commonwealth since the 2010 census.
Immigration from outside the United States resulted in a net increase of 159,627 people, and migration within the country produced a net increase of 155,205 people.
Aside from Virginia, the top birth state for Virginians is New York, having overtaken North Carolina in the 1990s, with the Northeast accounting for the largest number of migrants into the state by region.
The median age in 2018 was 38.4 years old, making the state just slightly older than the national average of 38.2.
The state's most populous ethnic group, Non-Hispanic whites, has declined as a proportion of population from 76 percent in 1990 to 61 percent in 2019, as other ethnicities have increased.
People of English heritage settled throughout the Commonwealth during the colonial period, and others of British and Irish heritage have since immigrated.
Those who identify on the census as having "American ethnicity" are predominantly of English descent, but have ancestors who have been in North America for so long they choose to identify simply as American.
Of the English immigrants to Virginia in the 17th century, three-fourths came as indentured servants.
There are also sizable numbers of people of German descent in the northwestern mountains and Shenandoah Valley.
On the 2018 American Community Survey, eleven percent said they were of German ancestry.
The largest minority group in Virginia are African Americans, who include about one-fifth of the population.
Many African Americans also have European and Native American ancestry, often with asymmetrical male and female ancestry contribution.
Though the Black population was reduced by the Great Migration to northern industrial cities in the first half of the 20th century, since 1965 there has been a reverse migration of Blacks returning south.
More recent immigration in the late 20th century and early 21st century has resulted in new communities of Hispanics and Asians.
The state's Hispanic population rose by 92 percent from 2000 to 2010, with two-thirds of Hispanics in the state living in Northern Virginia.
Hispanic citizens in Virginia have higher median household incomes and educational attainment than the general state population.
Korean Americans have migrated more recently, attracted by the quality school system.
Navy and armed forces.
Seven tribes also have federal recognition, including six that were recognized in 2018 after passage of bill named for activist Thomasina Jordan.
As of 2010, 85.9% (6,299,127) of Virginia residents age five and older spoke English at home as a first language, while 14.1% (1,036,442) did not—6.4% (470,058) spoke Spanish, 0.8% (56,518) Korean, 0.6% (45,881) Vietnamese, 0.6% (42,418) Chinese (including Mandarin), and 0.6% (40,724) Tagalog.
English was passed as the Commonwealth's official language by statutes in 1981 and again in 1996, though the status is not mandated by the Constitution of Virginia.
While a more homogenized American English is found in urban areas, various accents are also used, including the Tidewater accent, the Old Virginia accent, and the anachronistic Elizabethan of Tangier Island.
See also: Religion in early Virginia
Virginia is predominantly Christian and Protestant; Baptist denominations combined to form largest group with about 26 percent of the population as of 2014, and around 763,655 total members as of 2010.
Baptist denominational groups in Virginia include the Baptist General Association of Virginia, with about 1,400 member churches, which supports both the Southern Baptist Convention and the moderate Cooperative Baptist Fellowship; and the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia with more than 500 affiliated churches, which supports the Southern Baptist Convention.
Roman Catholics are the second-largest religious group with 673,853 members.
In November 2006, 15 conservative Episcopal churches voted to split from the Diocese of Virginia over the ordination of openly gay bishops and clergy in other dioceses of the Episcopal Church; these churches continue to claim affiliation with the larger Anglican Communion through other bodies outside the United States.
Though Virginia law allows parishioners to determine their church's affiliation, the diocese claimed the secessionist churches' buildings and properties.
The resulting property law case, ultimately decided in favor of the mainline diocese, was a test for Episcopal churches nationwide.
While the state's Jewish population is small, organized Jewish sites date to 1789 with Congregation Beth Ahabah.
Muslims are a growing religious group throughout the Commonwealth through immigration.
Main article: Economy of Virginia
See also: Virginia locations by per capita income
Virginia's economy has diverse sources of income, including local and federal government, military, farming and high-tech.
The state's average earnings per job was $63,281, the 11th-highest nationwide, and the gross domestic product (GDP) was $476.4 billion in 2018, the 13th-largest among U.S. states.
Prior to the coronavirus recession, in March 2020, Virginia had 4.36 million people employed with an unemployment rate of 2.9 percent, but jobless claims due to the virus soared over 10% in early April 2020, before leaving off at 6.2% in September, which was the 19th-lowest nationwide.
Virginia however ranks worst in the nation for timely review of unemployment benefits due to the pandemic.
Virginia has a median household income of $72,600, 11th-highest nationwide, and a poverty rate of 10.7 percent, 12th-lowest nationwide, as of 2018.
As of 2013, six of the twenty highest-income counties in the United States, including the two highest, as well as three of the fifty highest-income towns, are all located in Northern Virginia.
Virginia has the highest defense spending of any state per capita, providing the Commonwealth with around 900,000 jobs.
Approximately twelve percent of all U.S.
federal procurement money is spent in Virginia, the second-highest amount after California.
Many Virginians work for federal agencies in Northern Virginia, which include the Central Intelligence Agency and the Department of Defense, as well as the National Science Foundation, the United States Geological Survey and the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Many others work for government contractors, including defense and security firms, which hold more than 15,000 federal contracts.
Virginia has one of the highest concentrations of veterans of any state, and is second to California in total Department of Defense employees.
In its state government, Virginia employs 106,143 public employees, who combined have a median income of $44,656 as of 2013.
Virginia was home to 653,193 separate firms in the 2012 U.S. Census Survey of Business Owners, with 54% of those majority male-owned and 36.2% majority female-owned.
Approximately 28.3% of firms were also majority minority-owned, and 11.7% were veteran-owned.
Virginia's business environment has been ranked highly by various publications.
Additionally, in 2014 a survey of 12,000 small business owners found Virginia to be one of the most friendly states for small businesses.
Computer chips became the state's highest-grossing export in 2006, with a total export value of $694 million in 2019.
Northern Virginia, once considered the state's dairy capital, now hosts software, communication technology, defense contracting companies, particularly in the Dulles Technology Corridor and Tysons Corner areas.
The state has the highest average and peak Internet speeds in the United States, with the third-highest worldwide.
Northern Virginia's data centers can carry up to seventy percent of the nation's Internet traffic, and in 2015 the region was the largest and fastest growing data center market in the nation.
Tourism in Virginia supported an estimated 234,000 jobs in 2018, making tourism the state's fifth largest industry.
It generated $26 billion, an increase 4.4 percent from 2017.
The state was eighth nationwide in domestic travel spending in 2018, with Arlington County the top tourist destination in the state by domestic spending, followed by Fairfax County, Loudoun County, and Virginia Beach.
Virginia also saw 1.1 million international tourists in 2018, a five percent increase from 2017.
As of 2017, agriculture occupied 28 percent of the land in Virginia with 7.8 million acres (12,188 sq mi; 31,565 km) of farmland.
Nearly 54,000 Virginians work on the state's 43,225 farms, which average 181 acres (0.28 sq mi; 0.73 km).
Though agriculture has declined significantly since 1960 when there were twice as many farms, it remains the largest single industry in Virginia, providing for over 334,000 jobs.
Soybeans were the most profitable crop in Virginia in 2017, ahead of corn and cut flowers as other leading agricultural products.
However, the ongoing China-U.S. trade war led many Virginia farmers to plant cotton instead of soybeans in 2019.
Though it is no longer the primary crop, Virginia is still the third-largest producer of tobacco in the United States.
Virginia is also the country's third-largest producer of seafood as of 2018, with sea scallops, oysters, Chesapeake blue crabs, menhaden, and hardshell clams as the largest seafood harvests by value, and France, Canada, and Hong Kong as the top export destinations.
Commercial fishing supports 18,220 jobs as of 2020, while recreation fishing supports another 5,893.
Virginia has the seventh-highest number of wineries in the nation, with 307 as of 2020.
There is an additional 1% local tax, for a total of a 5.3% combined sales tax on most Virginia purchases.
The sales tax rate is higher in three regions: Northern Virginia (6%), Hampton Roads (6%) and the Historic Triangle (7%).
Unlike the majority of states, Virginia collects sales tax on groceries, but at a lower rate than the general sales tax; the sales tax for food and certain essential personal hygiene goods is 2.5%.
Virginia's property tax is set and collected at the local government level and varies throughout the Commonwealth.
Real estate is also taxed at the local level based on one hundred percent of fair market value.
As of fiscal year 2018, the median real estate tax rate per $100 of assessed taxable value was $1.07 for cities, $0.67 for counties, and $0.17 for towns; town rates are lower because towns (unlike cities) have a narrow range of responsibilities and are subordinate to counties.
Of local government tax revenue, about 61% is generated from real property taxes; about 24% from tangible personal property, sales and use, and business license tax; and 15% from other taxes (such as restaurant meal taxes, public service corporation property tax, consumer utility tax, and hotel tax).
Main article: Culture of Virginia
Their homes in Virginia represent the birthplace of America and the South.
Modern Virginia culture has many sources, and is part of the culture of the Southern United States.
The Smithsonian Institution divides Virginia into nine cultural regions.
Besides the general cuisine of the Southern United States, Virginia maintains its own particular traditions.
Virginia wine is made in many parts of the commonwealth.
Thomas Jefferson and many of the commonwealth's early leaders favored the Neoclassical architecture style, leading to its use for important state buildings.
The Pennsylvania Dutch and their style can also be found in parts of the commonwealth.
Literature in Virginia often deals with the commonwealth's extensive and sometimes troubled past.
Virginia also names a state Poet Laureate.
Fine and performing arts
See also: Music of Virginia
Rich in cultural heritage, Virginia however ranks near the bottom of U.S. states in terms of public spending on the arts, at nearly half of the national average.
The Virginia Foundation for the Humanities works to improve the Commonwealth's civic, cultural, and intellectual life.
Theaters and venues in the Commonwealth are found both in the cities and in suburbs.
There is also a Children's Theater of Virginia, Theatre IV, which is the second largest touring troupe nationwide.
Virginia has launched many award-winning traditional musical artists and internationally successful popular music acts, as well as Hollywood actors.
Contemporary Virginia is also known for folk rock artists like Dave Matthews and Jason Mraz, hip hop stars like Pharrell Williams, Missy Elliott and Pusha T, as well as thrash metal groups like GWAR and Lamb of God.
Many counties and localities host county fairs and festivals.
Fairfax County also sponsors Celebrate Fairfax!
with popular and traditional music performances.
The Virginia Lake Festival is held during the third weekend in July in Clarksville.
Wolf Trap hosts the Wolf Trap Opera Company, which produces an opera festival every summer.
Each September, Bay Days celebrates the Chesapeake Bay as well as Hampton's 400-year history since 1610, and Isle of Wight County holds a County Fair on the second week of September as well.
Both feature live music performances, and other unique events.
Northern Virginia is part of the much larger Washington, D.C. media market, which is the country's 7th-largest.
network, part of 42 stations which serve Virginia viewers including those broadcasting from neighboring jurisdictions.
In Northern Virginia, The Washington Post is the dominant newspaper and provides local coverage for the region.
Main article: Education in Virginia
Virginia's educational system consistently ranks in the top five states on the U.S.
The 2019 Quality Counts report ranked Virginia's K–12 education third in the country, with a letter grade of B.
All school divisions must adhere to educational standards set forth by the Virginia Department of Education, which maintains an assessment and accreditation regime known as the Standards of Learning to ensure accountability.
As off the 2018–19 academic year, a total of 1,290,576 students were enrolled in 2,293 local and regional schools in the Commonwealth, including eight charter schools, and an additional 98 alternative and special education centers across 133 school divisions.
2018 marked the first decline in overall enrollment in public schools, by just over 2,000 students, since 1984.
The Governor's Schools are a collection of more than 40 regional high schools and summer programs intended for gifted students.
The Virginia Council for Private Education oversees the regulation of 483 state accredited private schools.
An additional 17,283 students receive homeschooling.
In 2019, 91.5 percent of high school students graduated on-time after four years, an increase of two percent from 2013, and 89.3 percent of adults over the age 25 had their high school diploma.
Virginia has one of the smaller racial gaps in graduation rates among U.S. states, with 89.7 percent of Black students graduating on time, compared to 94.7 percent of white students and 97.5 percent of Asian students.
Despite ending school segregation in the 1960s, seven percent of Virginia's public schools were rated as "intensely segregated" by The Civil Rights Project at UCLA in 2019, and the number has risen since 1989, when only three percent were.
Virginia has comparatively large public school districts, typically comprising entire counties or cites, and this helps mitigate funding gaps seen in other states such that non-white districts average slightly more funding, $255 per student as of 2019, than majority white districts.
Elementary schools, with the smallest districts, we found by VCU study in 2019 to be more segregated than middle or high schools in Virginia.
Colleges and universities
As of 2019, Virginia has the sixth highest percent of residents with bachelor's degrees or higher, with 38.2 percent.
As of that year, there are 169 colleges and universities in Virginia.
In the 2019 U.S.
3, the College of William and Mary is No.
10, Virginia Tech is No.
30, George Mason University is No.
67, and Virginia Commonwealth University is No.
James Madison University is ranked the No.
6 regional university in The South.
There are 124 private institutions in the state, including nationally ranked liberal arts colleges Washington and Lee University at No.
11, the University of Richmond at No.
25, and the Virginia Military Institute at No.
Virginia also operates 23 community colleges on 40 campuses which enrolled more than 228,000 degree-seeking students during the 2018–2019 school year.
As of 2019, George Mason University had the largest on-campus enrollment at 37,677 students, though the private Liberty University had the largest total enrollment in the state, with 88,283 online and 15,105 on-campus students in Lynchburg.
Virginia has a mixed health record, and was ranked as the 15th overall healthiest state according to the 2019 United Health Foundation's Health Rankings.
Virginia was 19th lowest among U.S. states in its number of premature deaths, with 6,914 per 100,000, and 24th with an infant mortality rate of 5.9 per 1,000 live births.
There are however racial and social health disparities.
With high rates of heart disease and diabetes, African Americans in Virginia had an average life expectancy 4 years lower than whites and 12 years lower than Asian Americans and Latinos in 2017, and were disproportionately affected by COVID-19 during the coronavirus pandemic.
African-American mothers are also three times more likely to die while giving birth in the state.
Mortality rates among white middle-class Virginians have also been rising, with drug overdose, suicide, and alcohol poisoning as leading causes.
Weight is an issue for many Virginians, and 30.3% of adults and 13.2% of 10- to 17-year-olds are obese as of 2019.
Additionally, 35% of adults are overweight and 23.3% do not exercise regularly.
Virginia banned smoking in bars and restaurants in January 2010, and the percent of tobacco smokers in the state has declined from 19% in that year to 14.9% in 2019.
In 2008, Virginia became the first U.S. state to mandate the HPV vaccine for girls for school attendance.
There are 90 hospitals in Virginia with a combined 17,706 hospital beds as of 2020. Notable examples include Inova Fairfax Hospital, the largest hospital in the Washington Metropolitan Area, and the VCU Medical Center, located on the medical campus of Virginia Commonwealth University.
Virginia has a ratio of 148.1 primary care physicians per 10,000 residents, which is the 24th highest nationally, but only 171.9 mental health providers per that number, the 10th lowest nationwide.
The rate of uninsured Virginians dropped to 8.8% after the state government passed Medicare expansion in 2019.
Main article: Transportation in Virginia
Because of the 1932 Byrd Road Act, the state government controls most of Virginia's roads, instead of a local county authority as is usual in other states.
As of 2018, the Virginia Department of Transportation owns and operates 57,867 miles (93,128 km) of the total 70,105 miles (112,823 km) of roads in the state, making it the third largest state highway system in the United States.
Although the Washington Metropolitan Area, which includes Northern Virginia, has the second highest rate of traffic congestion in the nation, Virginia as a whole has the 21st-lowest rate of congestion and the average commute time is 26.9 minutes.
Virginia hit peak car usage before the year 2000, making it one of the first such states.
VRE is one of the nation's fastest growing commuter rail services, handling nearly 20,000 passengers a day.
Arlington accounted for forty percent of Virginia's public transit trips as of 2013, with most of that being from the Washington Metro transit system, which also serves Alexandria and communities in Fairfax County along I-66.
The Virginia Department of Transportation operates several free ferries throughout Virginia, the most notable being the Jamestown Ferry which connects Jamestown to Scotland Wharf across the James River.
Virginia has five major airports: Washington Dulles International and Reagan Washington National in Northern Virginia, both of which handle more than twenty million passengers a year; Richmond International; and Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport and Norfolk International serving the Hampton Roads area.
Several other airports offer limited commercial passenger service, and sixty-six public airports serve the state's aviation needs.
Law and government
Main article: Government of Virginia
The current General Assembly is the 161st since that year.
The government today functions under the seventh Constitution of Virginia, which was approved by voters in 1971 and is similar to the federal structure in that it provides for three branches: a strong legislature, an executive, and a unified judicial system.
Delegates serve two-year terms, while senators serve four-year terms, with the most recent elections for both taking place in November 2019.
The governor must be at least 30 years old and incumbent governors cannot run for re-election, however the lieutenant governor and attorney general can, and governors can and have served non-consecutive terms.
The lieutenant governor is the official head of the Senate, and is responsible for breaking ties.
The House elects a Speaker of the House and the Senate elects a President pro tempore, who presides when the lieutenant governor isn't present, and both houses elect a clerk and majority and minority leaders.
The governor also nominates their eleven cabinet members and others who head various state departments.
State budgets are proposed in even years by the governor.
The legislature meets annually starting on the second Wednesday of the year, typically for 60 days in even years and 48 days in odd years due to the state's biannual budgeting, though special sessions can be called either by the governor or with agreement of two-thirds of both houses.
Special sessions were called in 2019 on gun control and in 2020 on police reform and the impact of the coronavirus on the state budget.
The judges and justices who make up Virginia's judicial system, also the oldest in America, are elected by a majority vote in both the House and Senate without input from the governor, one way Virginia's legislature is stronger than its executive.
The system consists of a hierarchy from the Supreme Court of Virginia and the Court of Appeals of Virginia to the Circuit Courts, the trial courts of general jurisdiction, and the lower General District Courts and Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Courts.
The Supreme Court has seven justices who serve twelve-year terms, with a mandatory retirement age of 73.
The Supreme Court selects its own Chief Justice from among their seven members, who is informally limited to two four-year terms.
The Code of Virginia is the statutory law, and consists of the codified legislation of the General Assembly.
The Virginia Capitol Police is the oldest police department in the United States.
Virginia has the fourth lowest violent crime rate and 13th-lowest property crime rate as of 2018 according to FBI data.
Virginia ended prisoner parole in 1995.
As of 2019, Virginia's rate of recidivism (as measured by the proportion of convicted felons released back into the community who are re-convicted within 3 years and sentenced to a year or more) is 23.1 percent, the lowest in the country.
Main article: Politics of Virginia
Over the 20th century, Virginia shifted from a largely rural, politically Southern and conservative state to a more urbanized, pluralistic, and politically moderate environment.
Up until the 1970s, Virginia was a racially divided one-party state dominated by the Byrd Organization, which sought to stymie the political power of Northern Virginia, perpetuate segregation, and restrict voter registration.
Greater enfranchisement and demographic shifts further changed the electorate.
In 1980, 56 percent of eligible voters were born in the state; in 2019 that number was 45 percent, a result of strong international immigration and domestic migration into the state.
Regional differences also play a large part in Virginia politics.
While urban and growing suburban areas, including much of Northern Virginia, form the Democratic Party base, rural southern and western areas moved to support the Republican Party in response to its "southern strategy".
State elections in Virginia occur in odd-numbered years, with executive department elections occurring in years following U.S. presidential elections and Senate elections occurring in the years prior to presidential elections, as both have four-year terms.
House of Delegates elections take place concurrent with each of those elections as members have two-year terms.
National politics often play a role in state election outcomes, and Virginia has elected governors of the party opposite the U.S. president in ten of the last eleven contests, with only Terry McAuliffe beating the trend.
Republicans, however, held a super-majority (68–32) of seats in the House of Delegates, which they had first gained in the 2011 state elections.
Republicans also held a one-vote majority the state senate, which they then maintained in the 2015 election.
The 2017 statewide elections resulted in Democrats holding the three highest offices, with outgoing lieutenant governor Ralph Northam winning the governorship, Justin Fairfax elected lieutenant governor, and Mark Herring continuing as attorney general.
In concurrent House of Delegates elections, Democrats flipped fifteen of the Republicans' previous sixteen-seat majority.
Control of the House came down to the tied election in the 94th district, which was won by Republicans through drawing of lots, giving the party a slim 51–49 majority in the 2018–19 legislative sessions.
Voters in 2020 passed a referendum to give control of drawing both congressional and state legislative districts to a commission of eight citizens and four legislators from each of the two major parties, rather than the legislature.
Though Virginia was considered a "swing state" in the 2008 presidential election, Democratic candidates carried Virginia's 13 electoral votes in that election and the three since, suggesting the state has shifted to being reliably Democratic.
Virginia had previously voted for Republican presidential candidates in 13 out of 14 presidential elections from 1952 to 2004, including 10 in a row from 1968 to 2004, but hasn't voted for a Republican candidate statewide since 2009.
Virginia currently holds its presidential primary election on Super Tuesday, the same day as thirteen other states, with the most recent held on March 3, 2020.
In U.S. congressional elections since 2006, both parties have seen successes.
In the 2010 mid-term elections, the first under President Obama, Republicans flipped three United States House of Representatives seats from the Democrats, while in the 2018 mid-terms, the first under President Trump, Democrats flipped three seats from Republicans.
Of the state's eleven seats in the House of Representatives, Democrats currently hold seven and Republicans hold four.
See also: Sports teams in Virginia
Virginia is the most populous U.S. state without a major professional sports league franchise.
Virginia does not allow state appropriated funds to be used for either operational or capital expenses for intercollegiate athletics.
Their rivalry is followed statewide.
Main article: List of Virginia state symbols
The state nickname is its oldest symbol, though it has never been made official by law.
Virginia was given the title "Dominion" by King Charles II of England at the time of The Restoration, because it had remained loyal to the crown during the English Civil War, and the present moniker, "Old Dominion" is a reference to that title.
The other nickname, "Mother of Presidents", is also historic, as eight Virginians have served as President of the United States, including four of the first five.
The state's motto, Sic Semper Tyrannis, translates from Latin as "Thus Always to Tyrants", and is used on the state seal, which is then used on the flag.
While the seal was designed in 1776, and the flag was first used in the 1830s, both were made official in 1930.
The majority of the other symbols were made official in the late 20th century.
Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virginia.